Friday, 20 July 2018

Accusations fly as rival town councillors clash

BICKERING broke out between political rivals at last week’s meeting of Henley Town Council.

BICKERING broke out between political rivals at last week’s meeting of Henley Town Council.

It began when former mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, a member of the opposition Henley Residents’ Group, accused the Conservative Mayor Julian Brookes of snubbing Henley Rugby Club by not attending the official re-opening of its clubhouse after a £475,000 refurbishment which was part-funded by the council.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “I believe you have been incredibly rude to the rugby club. You were invited and you have said that you weren’t.”

Cllr Brookes replied: “I am not going to discuss this anymore. I am interrupting and I am asking you to sit down.”

Cllr Gawrysiak said he was entitled to talk for three minutes and added: “You should apologise to the club because they have behaved impeccably.

“I have an email from [club chairman] Mike Trethewey to say you were invited.”

The Mayor replied: “I have not received a verbal or written invitation or otherwise.”

Councillor Dylan Thomas (Con) then attacked Cllr Gawrysiak for accepting an increase in his councillor’s allowance as a member of South Oxfordshire District Council despite having voted against it.

He said he thought the increase was vulgar, adding: “How much of this have you refused to take or are you picking it up like the rest?”

Cllr Gawrysiak confirmed that he was claiming his allowance to which Cllr Thomas responded: “Shame!” Councillor Ian Reissmann (HRG) said he wished to raise a point of order, which was denied by the Mayor.

Cllr Reissmann then reminded members to “conduct ourselves better” and “treat each other with respect”.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “I find it really quite bizarre that Cllr Thomas raises codes of conduct as he is the one breaching codes of conduct.

“I believe that all councillors can speak. If you disagree, then fine, stand up afterwards and make your points but to be rude to members of the public and this council is not on.

“Yes, I have taken the fee. I work incredibly hard as a district councillor. You will note I have taken no travelling expenses for doing my job, that was my compromise.”

Cllr Brooke said: “I do wish you would answer the question rather than grandstanding.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier (Con), who is also a district councillor, said: “I would like to say that we do deserve the allowances — you may laugh, Cllr Thomas, but I find that rude.

“I don’t take petrol allowances and a lot of meetings are in Abingdon. You might like to come along to a planning meeting and find how much time we spend there.”

District councillor Joan Bland added: “I also don’t claim travel expenses. The pittance we get hardly covers the time we spend away from our businesses. It costs us money.”

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